A Year of Morning Thanks
So I read Calvin (great beard, weird hat) this morning, Calvin on Psalm 1: "It is necessary to remember that the world is fraught with deadly corruption, and that the first step to living well is to renounce the company of the ungodly, otherwise it is sure to infect us with its own pollution."
Forgive me, but this morning there's a sort of "well, duh," to this passage, as if Calvin's words were so overused as to be cliched--and, in a certain way, they are. As a blanket indictment, his declaration has all the power of any blanket indictment. The real trick is to know who, on earth, is "the ungodly," who exactly are those whose principles require shunning.
Here we are amid the storm of one of the most amazing Presidential sweepstakes ever--most colorful, most dramatic, most entertaining. Obama fills a stadium for his acceptance speech, and the next morning his moment of victory is body-checked by a hockey mom in designer glasses. Just amazing.
What leaves me staggering and confused is how easily all of us--me included--can sign our perception of God's will on our own political interests and the characters who wield them. So many of us Christians--or so it seems to me--baptize our favorites with the imprimatur of Right. We turn our crusades into something righteous. Radical Islam isn't the only religion that practices jihad.
Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just my age. Whatever it is, I'd like to call on Mr. Calvin and tell him to get specific here, to let me know in this campaign season just exactly who is "the company of the ungodly," the specific folks from whom I should walk--no run--away. In Psalm 1, neither Calvin nor the psalmist himself left any fine print beneath the banner headlines.
My fear, in this election as elsewhere, is that pointing out the ungodly is far more complex than the psalmist would have us believe. I get to feeling befuddled. But then again, maybe that's where He wants me--not walking or standing or sitting at all, but flat out befuddled and on my knees instead. Maybe it's humility he wants out of me, simple humility.
But that's tough too--really tough.
How is it that biblical morality can be such a hard sell, even to ourselves? This morning I just shake my head at a psalmist who can really be delighted in God's law, even though that law may well be my meditation day and night (it's got me spinning in circles this morning). Seems to me that sometimes that law--at least in the opening verses of Psalm 1--makes my life miserable.
Life ain't easy. I know, I know--that feels more like confession than gratitude. No matter. I think He'll forgive me that much this morning --and for that forgiveness I'm always thankful.